A happy new (exhibits) year!

Major S.F. institutions offer

a plethora of art and history

By Janos Gereben

Special to The Examiner

The year that just ended was a good one for the arts in San Francisco, but 2008 looks even better. A quick look at The City’s major museums alone brims with promise:

DE YOUNG

At the de Young there will be wide variety, with emphasis on the contemporary, ranging from “For Tent and Trade: Masterpieces of Turkmen Weaving” (now through April 27), to the strange and fascinating world of the British “living sculptures” Gilbert & George (Feb. 16 through May 18), to the first local museum show of glass artist Dale Chihuly (June 14 through Sept. 28), then exhibits of works by Andy Warhol and Maya Lin.

(415) 750-3600 or www.famsf.org

LEGION OF HONOR

The Legion of Honor schedule ranges from “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life” (March 1 through May 25), to a show of top women Impressionists — Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzalès and Marie Bracquemond (June 21 through Sept. 21), to an inventive, major exhibit, “Treasures from Berlin: The Legacy of James Simon” (Oct. 18 through Jan. 11, 2009).

Simon was a wealthy, imaginative, enterprising art patron, donating vast collections to museums a century ago. One of his descendants, Tim Simon of San Francisco, helped to organize the show coming to the Legion.

(415) 750-3600 or www.famsf.org

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM

The Contemporary Jewish Museum, reopening at its new 736 Mission St. location in June (the Steuart Street gallery is closed), will have two inaugural shows: “In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis” and “From the New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig,” showcasing the New Yorker cartoonist (for 73 years!) whose many children’s books include the original “Shrek.”

www.jmsf.org

SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the year begins with a show of works by Vietnamese American photographer An-My Lê (Jan. 26 through May 4), and the first of three museum-commissioned projects exploring Silicon Valley, through the photography of Gabriele Basilico (Jan. 26 through June 15).

“Cut: Revealing the Section” comes to SFMoMA Feb. 8 through June 8. The exhibit will showcase works from the museum’s architecture and design collections, including Timothy Pflueger’s depictions of the Castro Theatre, abstract works by Joel Sanders and Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis and Gordon Matta-Clark’s film “Splitting,” which reveals the section cut as an act of anti-architecture.

A Lee Friedlander retrospective is scheduled Feb. 23 through May 18; “Early Works from the Media Arts Collection,” from March 22 through June 8; new works by Paul Sietsema, March 28 through June 22; a big show of Frida Kahlo’s works on the centennial of her birth, June 14 through Sept. 28; “The Art of Lee Miller,” July 1 through

Sept. 21; and”The Half-Life of a Dream,” an important collection of Chinese contemporary art from the Logan Collection, July 10 through Oct. 5.

(415) 357-4170 or www.sfmoma.org

ASIAN ART MUSEUM

Ancient Chinese art will be well-represented among many planned shows at the Asian Art Museum, none more important than “Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty.” A U.S. tour of works from the dynasty, which lasted from 1368 through 1644, is being organized by the San Francisco museum in cooperation with Chinese institutions to coincide with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It will be on display June 27 through Sept. 21.

There is a double local connection through Avery Brundage (1887-1975), president of the International Olympics Committee for two decades and the most important collector of Asian art in the United States; who left more than 7,000 objects to form the core of the Asian Art Museum.

“Power and Glory” will include some 250 art objects, including paintings, jades, textiles, jewelry, porcelain and architectural pieces.

(415) 581-3600 or www.asianart.org

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